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KillerStar releases “Should Have Known Better” (2023)

KillerStar is a new band largely made up of Bowie alumni about to release a new album. The band has already released its first single, which is featured in the above video, “Should Have Known Better.”

The song does not especially sound like a Bowie song. I don’t hear Gail Ann Dorsey’s familiar backing vocals, Mike Garson’s characteristic piano, Earl Slick’s signature guitar style or Donny McCaslin’s very recognizable sax, but they are supposedly all in there.

The band isn’t trying to sound like Bowie, but there are some Easter eggs of sorts, starting with the band’s name. The name is obviously taken from Bowie’s 2003 song, “New Killer Star,” which itself was a play on worlds (“New Killer” is supposed to sound like “Nuclear”). There are a few musical nods to Bowie, like “Absolute Beginners” style “ba-ba-ba-ooo.” The opening lines, “I’m a killer star; I’m a movie star” both co-opt Bowie’s favorite lyric, “star,” and his tendency to be a little confusing about which meaning of the word he intended. More specifically, the lines sound like they could have been plucked out of Bowie’s “Blackstar,” where he sings about being a Blackstar, not a pop star, a film star or a marvel (Marvel?) star.

The video depicts a boy watching old science fiction movies before entering his television and becoming one with the film. This evokes multiple Bowie songs— “Life on Mars” is about a girl who loses her troubles in the watching of movies. The narrator of “Andy Warhol” can’t tell the difference between the reality of the artist and “the silver screen.” The narrator of “TCV15” contemplates jumping ‘down that rainbow way,” entering his television, which has already consumed his girlfriend. That video’s star is a child is somewhat evocative of “When I Live My Dream,” and of course the space theme speaks for itself.

OK, to really go out on a limb, the song’s title makes me think of the Eurythmics’ “Thorn in My Side,” in which Annie Lennox repeatedly sings, “I should have known better,” as well as Aimee Mann’s, “I Should Have Known.” Lennox collaborated with Bowie during the Freddie Mercury tribute concert on “Under Pressure.” Bowie had a song called, “Love You Til Tuesday” which coincidently was similar to Aimee Mann’s band, Til Tuesday. OK, these two are a bit of a stretch but… you never know…

From the band’s website:

KillerStar is a new band led by Rob Fleming (vocals, guitar, synths) and James Sedge (drums). With songs written by Rob and James the self-titled album features an array of special guests – David Bowie’s most trusted collaborators: Mike Garson on piano, Earl Slick and Mark Plati on guitar, Gail Ann Dorsey and Tim Lefebvre on bass, Emm Gryner on backing vocals, and Donny McCaslin on saxophone.”

For more on the band, link to its website here.

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